Wednesday, November 10, 2010

20 Teams to Watch in Boys Basketball Class 1A

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again. Christmas decorations are popping up in towns across central Iowa. Fred Hoiberg begins his career as the Cyclones new Head Coach this Friday night with ISU’s first game of the season. The state football playoffs are winding down, and basketball practices are beginning. Here is a look at who I feel will be the top 20 teams in boys’ Class 1A this season.

Ranked In Order By Wins From Last Season

Lynnville Sully (25-3)-- The Hawks return 2 starters and 3 of their top 5 scorers from a state tournament team that finished 25-3 last season. Chase Cullen is the top returning scorer. He led the team with 13.3 points per game last year as a sophomore, while making 42 of 100 three point tries. Logan Vos returns as the teams leading rebounder from 09-10. The 6’5” senior averaged nearly 10 rebounds per game and 7 points per game. The Hawks ranked in the top 10 in three pointers, rebounds, assists, and blocks in class 1a last season.

Don Bosco (23-2)—A fellow member of the Iowa Star Conference (the conference Colo-Nesco is a new member of), the Dons will prove a good test for the Royals. Don Bosco returns 3 starters from a team that finished 23-2 last year. Nate Springer is their leading returning scorer at 13 points per game. Senior Eric Nie connected on 57 three pointers, placing him in the top 10 in Class 1a in that category.

Calamus Wheatland (22-6)—The Warriors lost All-State forward and leading scorer Ryan Powers to graduation, but two starters return from last years State Runner-Up squad, led by senior Drew Jacobi at 10.5 points per game. Brian Kruse, now a senior, was the team’s third leading scorer a year ago. 6’5” Sophomore Jake Jannsen looks to see an increased role and is a player to watch. He averaged nearly 4 points per game as a freshman reserve last season.

Iowa Mennonite (22-3)—My preseason #1, Iowa Mennonite finished 22-3 last season. The school returns 4 starters, led by sophomore Chance Miller at 11.5 points per game. The other three starters each averaged between 7 and 10 points per game on a team that shares the ball as well as any in the state. Three players return that had at least 80 assists each and Iowa Mennonite rated #2 in the state in total assists. Iowa Mennonite was the third best three-point shooting team in class 1a last year. Three players return that made at least 30 three pointers.

North East Hamilton(22-2)—Another member of the Iowa Star Conference, the Trojans finished 22-2 last year. They return 3 starters, led by Clay Herreld (a junior) at 15.3 points per game. Fellow junior Marcus Mechaelsen averaged over 13 points a game last season, giving the Trojans one of the most potent one-two punches in Class 1a.

St. Mary’s Storm Lake (22-1)—The Panthers will probably be rated in the top 5 when the preseason rankings are released. They finished 22-1 last season and return 3 starters and 4 of their top 5 scorers. Senior Connor Richardson and juniors Nathan Lenhart and Andy Drey lead a balanced attack at around 10 points per game, each.

Colo-Nesco (20-3)—The Royals return 4 of their top 6 players from last year, led by one of the premier players in Class 1a--Brandon Eley. Eley, the reigning Ames Tribune’s Mid Iowa Boys Player of the Year, averaged 19 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals a game last season for the 20-3 Royals. He’s joined by backcourt mate Austin Larsen (106 assists), and a frontcourt anchored by Weston Neuendorf (7.2 points per game), and Ethan Jamison (91 rebounds). The Royals will have to find someone to fill the role of three-point specialist Travis Guy, who graduated as the teams leading three-point shooter.

Prince of Peace (20-3)—The Irish, a prep school from Clinton, return 2 starters from a 20-3 team. Derek Witt is the leading returning scorer and rebounder. He averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds as a junior. 6’6” Center Seth Hinrichs and point guard Eric Sikkema are both seniors that averaged around 5 points per game last season.

Treynor (19-4)—The Cardinals return three of their top four scorers from a 19-4 team. Cole Rath (a senior), and Chris Zimmerman (a junior) averaged over 10 points per game. Seniors Jordan Lammert and Tyler Woods both averaged 6 per game and should provide a balanced scoring attack for the veteran team. The Cardinals are a great rebounding team and return their top four rebounders from last year, with three of them grabbing over 100 each for the season.

Holy Trinity Catholic (19-5)—Holy Trinity finished 19-5 last season and returns 2 starters—Ben Rector and Zach Bartlett. Josh Fullenkamp also played a significant role, averaging 5 points and grabbing 101 rebounds on the season.

Bishop-Garrigan (18-8)—A state tournament qualifier a year ago (18-8), the Golden Bears have to replace three starters. Austin Vaske is the star player. He averaged 11.7 points and made 38 three-pointers as a sophomore starter last season.

St. Albert Council Bluffs (18-5)—The Falcons return 4 of their top 6 players from last years state tournament team that finished 18-5. They are led by Steve O’Neill at 15.3 points per game. He made 56 three-pointers last season as a junior.

Iowa Christian (17-5)—The Trail Blazers return 9 of their top 10 players from last year’s 17-5 squad. They will have to replace leading scorer Keaton Schut who averaged 17.5 points per game. This is a very experienced team—all 9 of those top 10 returning are seniors, and 7 of them saw considerable playing time last season.

Coon Rapids-Bayard (16-10)—A state tournament qualifier last year, the Crusaders return 3 starters from a 16-10 team. Jacob Esdohr returns as the leading scorer from that team. He averaged nearly 15 points per game. Gage Reis is the teams best outside shooter. He made 40 three pointers a year ago as a sophomore. The Crusaders are small—the tallest returning player is 6’ tall.

Mt. Ayr (16-8)—The Raiders lost leading scorer Malcom Mercer, but return every other player from last year’s team that won 16 games. 6 returnees each averaged between 4 and nearly 10 points per game, led by Matt Sobotka’s 9.4 points.

Murray (16-7)—The Mustangs may be one of the most exciting teams in Class 1a this season. Last seasons sensational freshmen pair of Austin Halls and Cody Scroggie return as maybe the most dynamic duo of all the small schools. Halls averaged an amazing 26.5 points (1st in the state in 1a) per game as a freshman, while canning 63 three pointers (5th in the state in 1a), dishing out 153 assists(3rd in the state in 1a), and making 106 steals (3rd in the state in 1a). He also hit 75 percent of his free throw tries. Scroggie averaged 12.7 points as a freshman and connected on 42 three pointers. Watch out for the Mustangs!

Woodbury Central (16-6)—The Wildcats return 4 starters, led by star James Wright (17 pts and 9 rebounds per game), and Grady Gallagher (12 points, 53 three pointers). They finished 16-6 last season.

Newman Catholic, Mason City (15-9)—The Knights return 2 starters from a team that finished 15-9 last season. Senior Drew Verstegen returns as the teams leading scorer at 17.6 points per game. He chipped in 32 three pointers as part of that average last year. Oh yeah, and add 10.8 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 3.2 steals per game to go with that, leading the team in every category but assists.

Boyer Valley—The Bulldogs (15-7) return three starters, led by Kyle Brosamle who led the team in scoring (16 ppg) and rebounding (117 rebounds). He and fellow senior Adam Hadden combined for 78 three pointers last season and both shoot over 75 % from the charity stripe.

Remsen-Union (13-9)—The Rockets return all five starters and their key reserve player from last year’s 13-9 squad. They graduated only one player from last year, and he only averaged 2 points per game. Three players average over 13 points per game in a balanced scoring attack, led by Kraig Alesch (13.8 ppg). 4 players made at least 10 three-pointers last season. They’re big too—Alesch is 6’4”; and starting center Alex Hansen is 6’6”.

Ok—now that you’ve seen them, I’m sure you’re dying to know my top ten. I’m a little hesitant to do this, but I am interested to see how it compares with other top ten lists that will come out after mine. And this is the first time I’ve ever done this with high school. Here it is:

1. Iowa Mennonite
2. Lynnville-Sully
3. St. Albert, Council Bluffs
4. St. Mary’s Storm Lake
5. Calamus-Wheatland
6. Colo-Nesco
7. Coon Rapids-Bayard
8. Iowa Christian
9. Murray
10. Remsen-Union

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